It looks like a low-fruit year for Michigan

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Some of the plants in my yard look wilted. The hosta leaves have all fallen over and the Japanese maple leaves look really wilted. All the flowers fell off my crabapple. It got kind of cold this last weekend. But I don’t think that was the problem. Are all these plants diseased?

It’s much more mundane than that. They all got frozen.

Even if you did not realize it, the temperature on the night of April 28 dropped to 24-25 degrees in this area. That’s not frost, that’s freezing.

If you think back to March, we had several days of 85 degree temperatures. The flowers and leaves grew rapidly. They were much bigger on that freezing night then they have been in previous years. The leaves froze.

When the vascular tissue inside the leaf is frozen, it collapses because the moisture from the roots cannot enter collapsed tissue. If it was even colder, the leaves would be blackened and curled. The good news is that this is not a disease.

Diseases, like insects, are particular about their victims. They just don’t do everybody that is green or on that side of the house. But frosts or freezing can hit scattered areas.

Most or all of your plants will recover and make new leaves. Just water them if they are dry and don’t fertilize them.

The warm March weather across Michigan pushed many fruit crops ahead in their normal timetable. There have been freezes in many places in the state that have already damaged these crops: sweet and tart cherries, blueberries, grapes, peaches, apples, pears and plums.

In southern Michigan, there may be some crops that have less damage to flowers or fruit buds. But it may be a Michigan low-fruit year.

All those temperatures affect our home landscaping, too.

While many people were rejoicing in the early warm temperatures, the experienced gardeners were muttering that we would pay for our happiness. And we have.

We live out in the country. Across the street is a dead tree that is covered with poison ivy. This is a danger to my grandchildren. We are going to cut it down but what do we do with the poison ivy? I asked and nobody owns the property.

What?

There isn’t one square inch in Michigan that does not belong to somebody or some organization. The state, county and township are taxing that land and receiving money and if they were not, the property gets auctioned.

You cannot cut down trees on someone else’s land. Call the township or county and find out who owns it. If the owner gives permission, then you can. But get the permission in writing for your own protection.

If you have permission, remember that you are responsible if the tree causes damage or falls in the road.

So, if all the problems are fixed and the tree is down, there is no safe way of handling poison ivy. It produces a resinous oil that remains long after the leaves are dead. The oil is called urushiol. If you touch any part of the plant, you can get a rash. If the vine is cut when dropping the tree or when cutting it up, the oil can be distributed around by the sawdust and can get on you. The oil has broken down enough when the vine is disintegrating and falling off the tree, but that could be years.

You should handle any poison ivy with disposable rubber gloves. So handle with extreme care.

Consider this plan and how many steps are needed to execute it. It might be easier to restrict your grandkids from trespassing across the street.

About Gretchen Voyle 51 Articles

Gretchen Voyle is the MSU Extension-Livingston County Horticulture Educator. She can be reached at (517) 546-3950.